|Poster:||Monte B Cowboy||Date:||Aug 12, 2013 9:56pm|
|Forum:||GratefulDead||Subject:||Re: non-dead inflammatory post > Fire on the Mountain! > Big River|
Built in the winter of 1873, The Cliff House at Pikes Peak has been open to guests longer than Colorado has been a state, compiling a fascinating history of its own over its 125 years. By 1876, The Inn was struggling to find guests. Fortunately, over the next half-dozen years, interest in the town’s ancient mineral springs was beginning to increase. For hundreds, perhaps thousands, of years, the springs had bubbled up from underground limestone aquifers that carbonated the water and infused it with minerals. The water was cool, good-tasting and had a high concentration of minerals that benefit the body. American Indians had been drinking it straight from the springs for hundreds of years, believing them to have healing powers.
The Inn’s future was intertwined with the springs by Edward E. Nichols, who had come West in the 1870s to fight a battle with tuberculosis. Having beaten the illness, Nichols moved permanently to Manitou Springs, a town where he served as mayor for eight terms. In 1886 he bought The Inn, renaming it The Cliff House and converting it to a sophisticated resort hotel that capitalized on the sparkling waters and mineral springs in the region.
In 1914, Nichols collaborated with Colorado Governor Shoup to found the Manitou Bath House Company. The new company turned the struggling community into a resort specializing in water therapies. The Cliff House at Pikes Peak capitalized on the sudden influx of wealthy clients eager to take advantage of the healing powers of the springs. The hotel became a resort for the wealthy and remained popular well into the 20th century. In the 30 years that followed the founding of the Manitou Bath House Company, Nichols expanded the hotel from 20 rooms to 56, and eventually to 200. The result was the beautiful, four-and-a-half story building that still stands today.
The Cliff House at Pikes Peak became a prime vacation destination for the wealthy, and guests included Theodore Roosevelt; Ferdinand, Crown Prince of Austria; William Henry Jackson; Charles Dickens Jr.; P.T. Barnum; Thomas Edison; Clark Gable; F. W. Woolworth; and, J. Paul Getty. All guests of The Cliff House received the personalized attention expected at a premier resort hotel. Concerts were scheduled on the grounds each evening, and each morning guests were given programs detailing the evening’s entertainment. Each evening, guests enjoyed formal dinners, then delighted in the evening’s concert. After enjoying the entertainment, guests were encouraged to walk across the street to the Soda Springs for a glass of fresh spring water before retiring. The Cliff House at Pikes Peak even had underground tunnels leading from the hotel to the spa across the street.
In later years, a bathhouse was built at the spa, and bell boys from the hotel would cross to the spring to fill bottles and glasses with the sparkling water for the guests. The Cliff House at Pikes Peak soon became the most popular hotel and spa in the Colorado Springs region, drawing people from all walks of life and from around the world. For all its successes, The Cliff House at Pikes Peak also endured some hard times and disasters. In 1921, a flash flood roared down Williams Canyon and washed through the hotel’s Grill Room, a small sandwich and soda shop in the rear of the East wing, destroying all the hymn books and buckling the floor all the way to the ceiling.
California real estate developer James S. Morley bought The Cliff House at Pikes Peak in 1979, turning the historic building into a 42-unit apartment building. While working as an electronics techinician for Ampex in Colorado Springs, Monte Barry lived on the fourth floor in one of The Cliff House's furnished apartments. The rent for Monte's apartment was $160 per month, utilities were included. In 1980, I climbed to the summit of Pike's Peak by walking out my Cliff House apartment's front door with my backpack and hiking up Barr Trail. In summer 1981, I moved out of the Cliff House and left the area.
In its second disaster of the century, the building caught fire in March, 1982. The fourth floor roof sustained so much damage it had to be replaced. In addition, the interior was stripped of all plumbing, plaster and floor coverings. The water damage sustained from the fire was so extensive as to threaten the very existence of the building, so immediate action was taken to preserve what remained. Due to the local economy, the building stood vacant for 16 years.
Cliff House after the fire in 1982 - photo by Chris Busby, Manitou Springs resident and Ampex technician
Since The Cliff House had been placed on the National Registry of Historic Places, the fire also raised concerns among citizens groups and government agencies that supported its renovation. In 1997, Morley committed to the restoration, vowing to restore the hotel to its original distinction and fame, preserving the Rocky Mountain Victorian architecture of the 1800s, but incorporating 21st Century state-of-the-art technology and amenities. $10.5 million worth of restoration, refurbishing, and loving care have realized this vision.
In 2003, Monte hit Manitou Springs for a visit. It was his third time taking the Cog Railway "one-way," up the Pike's Peak mountain to its summit, and then hiking back down into Manitou Springs. I stopped for a "trophy beer" at the Royal Tavern. I asked about the Cliff House and said, "I lived there in 1979 and my rent was $160 a month, utilities included." Two or three people chimed in and said, "Hotel guests right now are paying $300 a night to stay there!"
In September 2007, Gal-Tex Hotel Corporation purchased The Cliff House and immediately committed additional capital for the property. Gal-Tex Hotel Corp. and 1859 Historic Hotels L.L.C. kept the same core staff to continue to enhance the excellent reputation that the team had established. Gal-Tex and 1859 Historic Hotels have since added an East Addition at the cost of approx: 1.7 million dollars. The addition includes a full-service bar (Red Mountain Bar and Grill,) a spacious fitness room with brand new equipment, a garden patio with a fire pit, an intimate meeting room (Williams Canyon,) and on the 3rd level a space was created with an outdoor event feel but with the ability to adjust to inclement weather. Moving windows allow the Cathedral Spires Pavillion to be one of the most unique event spaces in the region.
Going forward, The Cliff House has plans to expand and upgrade our guest experiences even further. Gal-Tex, 1859 Historic Hotels,and The Cliff House are committed to providing the best in hospitality for all of our guests.
Then last summer Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs were hit by the Waldo Canyon fire. Here is our GD Forum discussion about this fire. That's when things at the Cliff House really changed!
Cliff House after a rainstorm on July 3, 2013 - flood from the Waldo Canyon burn scar
photo by Carol Lawrence, The Colorado Springs Gazette
The flooding on August 9, though, was destructive and quick. Heavy rain caused quickly-moving streams to propel debris and vehicles, made worse by the burn scar from the Waldo Canyon wildfire last year. Three people were injured and at least one person was killed in Manitou Springs.
Flash flood warnings have been frequent this summer in Manitou Springs. Global warming will exacerbate this problem. The basic physical property here is that warm air holds more water vapor than cold air. Today our Earth's atmosphere is about four percent wetter than it was 40 years ago. That's an enormous change in a basic physical parameter. Our Planet will experience increased drought and fires - as you’re getting increased evaporation. There will be deluge, downpours, and flooding.
At The Cliff House at Pikes Peak, below a canyon that burned in the Waldo Canyon Fire, the hotel’s staff regularly put sandbags around the lower deck and back doors as a precaution when the forecast calls for rain. They did it again August 8, but it didn’t help.
Cliff House during the rainstorm on Aug 9, 2013
“The sandbags we put up were washed out almost immediately,” Cliff House front office manager Roland Sardaczuk said. “The cars parked on Park Avenue — the water just threw them around like they were toys.” The hotel remained open, and no one there was hurt. “We’re grateful for that,” Sardaczuk said.